A light bulb moment occurred when reading an article on the perilous state of higher education written in the year 1991- just twenty six years ago.
It points to the hijacking of university syllabuses by biased interests in the field of gender and race based studies to push an agenda of social transformation in blatant opposition to the principles of higher learning.
Although it goes without saying all studies in the humanities field have been affected by this ideological virus-but let’s continue.
The article in question-Illiberal Education-The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus by Dinesh D’Souza in which he states; until quite recently there was a robust agreement about the intellectual and moral purpose of a liberal- arts education.
This has now changed with the recent much publicised controversy over attempts to enforce politically correct thinking on American campuses in the name of multiculturalism highlighting the extent to which higher education has been transformed into ideological indoctrination which is just a continuation of politics by other means.
Some professors will disagree privately with this development if no one is looking- but most sit in complete silence as they are preached to by politically correct colleagues.
The new academic elite- the tenured or soon to- be- tenured radicals now control the most prestigious humanities departments and dismiss opposition concerns with a dismissive wave of the hand denying the curriculum has been politicised but rather democratised to protect vulnerable designated groups- and YOU aren’t against democracy are you?
On a more serious note fundamental premises like rationality-individual rights-upholding the principle of neutral criticism -colour blind justice- advancement according to merit are being destroyed.
The irony is that mostly white academics and other so-called intellectuals- and their lobbyist allies- who hate their own heritage are blocking the flow of genuine information from reaching the public preventing debate -not those supposedly fragile minority groups.
As the title of the article suggests it focuses on the way radical politics and feminism have transferred the intellectual and social life of American higher education.
D’Sousa labels this phenomenon “a victim’s revolution on campus” although undertaken in the name of freedom and diversity its results are intellectual conformity-destruction of academic standards-and a revival of brutish ethnic tensions or the old divide and rule scenario all over again.
As he notes the victims are students themselves as their need for all-round development hasn’t been met- instead what they take away is “all rules are unjust”-“all preferences are principled”- justice boils down to “the will of the stronger party”-standards and values are arbitrary-that individual right are a red flag signalling social privilege and must submit to group interests- finally that all knowledge can be reduced to politics.
D’Sousa begins his article with the bold claim- A new world view is consolidating itself.
It’s a world in which the battle for ethnic and sexual redress trumps the battle for truth, in which group prerogatives have precedence over individual rights, and in which notions of excellence, merit, and quality are subverted by an effort to legalise virtue.
Phew! Did he just nail it?
Dinesh D’Sousa is a native of India who arrived in the US in 1978 and graduated from Dartmouth college in 1983- was an editor of the Dartmouth Review-that bane of politically correct liberals- and currently serves as a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.
Next- he deals with the hot potato of free speech where he notes hostility to free expression in the name of race and gender sensitivities is now the norm.
By using the term harassment which is defined as remarks that offend or stigmatize women or minorities although not limited to- as it also includes inconsiderate jokes, misdirected laughter and even conspicuous exclusion from conversation and penalties range from reprimand to expulsion.
D’Sousa notes the paradox of universities dictating ‘moralistic legislation’ insofar as restricting free speech is concerned while excusing themselves from restricting sexual behaviour saying- the university shall not regard
itself as the arbitrator or enforcer of student morals.
Except of course where politically correctness is concerned no doubt.
He mentions an instance where a law professor was cautioned because he illustrated a legal concept using two lines from Byron’s Don Juan- “A little still she strove, and much repented-/ And whispering, I will ne’er consent- consented- as encouraging rape by feminists.
What is taking place on campuses is a tyrannical combination of extreme license combined with almost puritanical censorship.
This prompted one Dean to remark there is less freedom now than during the days of McCarthy.
Promoting victimhood as a sign of political and moral choice converts victim status into a weapon to stifle debate and enforce intellectual conformity.
Behind the cult of victimhood lies a sixties-style radicalism which has been adopted into the centre of academic life.
It’s no surprise to realize radical hippie tools set their sights on education to subvert it and change society from within.
The middle ground has disappeared and is now occupied by radicals the reason traditional ideals in the liberals arts are labelled and criticised as conservative.
Which brings us to the question-are universities really independent?
Is it a case of the tail wagging the dog- with a small group controlling the whole-are these ideas conceived by wealthy think tanks then filtered down to universities to mould into a bona-fide field of study?
The last word goes to historian Jacques Barzun- academia has not only committed moral suicide-since the victims are faculty and students (and society itself) as well we may speak of something like moral homicide.